Right Pond. Wrong Bait. (Putting First Things First in the Quest for Customers.)
Updated: May 27, 2018
Pretend for a moment that you are a fishing fanatic. You know exactly where to go to catch certain types of fish, what sorts of water conditions and insects signal that your aquatic prospects are nearby, and even how deep to drop your hook based on the weather and time of year. Or, better yet, let’s say you belong to one of those private fishing clubs that stocks their private pond so you don’t even have to do all that pesky detective work. Now let’s pretend that you’ve arrived at the club only to realize that you forgot your tackle box—so you just spit out your chewing gum, stick it on the hook, and throw it in the generously stocked pond. You may nab a couple of the more fish-brained fish, or the ones that are desperately hungry, but your hit rate will no doubt be exponentially worse than it would have been with a nice juicy earth worm on the line.
Similarly, when it comes to marketing and sales, one could argue that your offer (e.g. your product, value proposition, sales pitch—the thing on the hook) is your most critical success factor—or, at minimum, the thing that will largely determine your marketing spending efficiency and margins. While the specific advertising channels and vehicles you choose are obviously important to ensuring you are reaching the right types of prospects, they are not solutions in and of themselves.
Yet, too often, organizations focus most of their attention on where they are going to spend their promotional dollars and on the related operational aspects of that work—without first investing the time and energy required to determine what exactly they should be selling and how they should be describing it in those advertising channels. They are operating under the incorrect (albeit appealing) assumption that fishing in the right pond is, in and of itself, a winning strategy, and that the messaging ("the bait") is just there to fill the space.
When the sun is shining and the fish are jumping, it can be incredibly tempting to just get out there and start casting. Nevertheless, disciplined organizations that take the time to identify and articulate a powerful and compelling value proposition will ultimately save themselves untold money, time, frustration, and metaphorical chewing gum.